After working in an office for 5 years and basically leading a relationship with my computer, I decided to take the leap: leave everything for the unknown and actually live life instead of letting it go by. It was always my dream to travel but to transform this dream into a plan took some time and organising – so worth it!

Completely in love with skiing, I decided to start my journey in a skiing resort, where I knew I would meet a lot of other seasonal workers from around the world, and where I could ski as often as possible. A little research and debate, my choice fell on Whistler, British Columbia.

The adventure started in the UK when I was granted my one year Working Visa via the IEC website, from that point all I had to do was, pack my bag, my skis and passport…

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Putting a roof over your head

I wanted to be prepared and read different blogs from people who had went to Whistler as well. They strongly advised to find a place to live asap as without an address it was difficult to find a job. Whistler is expensive and even though I saved money before leaving the UK, I didn’t want to use it all during the first few months – this was supposed to be just the beginning of my adventure… Finding accommodation before leaving was a bit of a challenge as many properties are rented privately and you always hear about dodgy deals, and difficulties with the deposit. I looked for weeks until I found an agency that had good reviews and was happy to receive money via PayPal which was the only way I could pay the deposit without facing monstrous fees! My studio was furnished and all the bills were included in the rent – as were a swimming pool, jacuzzi and gym!

I arrived in Vancouver in the middle of October and I stayed for a few days to explore this beautiful city. I fell in love with Vancouver and Canadian people straight away, I couldn’t believe how nice everyone was! It took me 3 to 4 days to get used to the time difference and then left for Whistler…

I took the Grey Hound bus which took approximately 2hours. On arrival I was picked up by an employee of the letting agency who took me to my new home. He gave me the tour and drove me to the village (15-20mins walk) where I got internet sorted and had my first look around. Many shops had ‘Hiring’ signs in their windows already, although hardly any seasonal folk had arrived yet. Within 24 hours I had my resumes printed at the library and started job hunting.

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Meeting other work-and-travelers

Still at the end of October the village was very quiet and it was raining almost 24/7 – a little depressing, but I knew the season would be starting soon. I wanted to meet people as soon as possible, so I registered with places like the Chamber of Commerce and the Whistler Art Council to hear about their events, and started volunteering at various events and festivals. This way I met loads of different people, some of whom I am still in contact with after having returned home. They helped and gave me advice; some of them had left their homes years ago and traveled somewhere new every season – they had a lot of knowledge to share. I got to know the village and it kept me busy until finding a job. I can highly recommend volunteering when moving to a new place!

The village also arranges something called Whistler Welcome Week at the beginning of winter and summer season. The whole town comes together for this. There are free breakfasts, dinners, talks, events at the museum and the library – great for seasonal workers and locals to get to know each other.

The season properly kicked off mid-November which is when I finally got full time hours and met more and more people – funny enough, not many Canadians. It was a good mix of people – some just wanted to have fun for six months, others were there as part of a longer journey, and some were there just looking for the sport! The big advantage of Whistler is that everyone can find what they are looking for, up on the mountain and down in the village. For me Whistler was just the beginning, so even though I wanted to meet people, ski and have fun I still had to think about money and not splurge constantly. Most of the people that I got close too were in the same situation as me, I guess you peer up with people that are looking for the same experiences. My aim was to live off what I was earning. I had hoped to get by with a part-time job, but Whistler is very expensive, so I had to go for full-time employment. Working different shifts though, meant I could still ski in the morning and work in the afternoon/evening!

On average I would go up the mountain four times a week, either on my own or with my friends depending on all our schedules, work 40h/week and either go out in the evenings or having friends over.

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Finding a job

Now you might wonder about the job situation… I landed one within the first week of my arrival! I didn’t expect to make career or anything, so as long as my bills were covered I was happy with any job; a waitress, a sales rep, a cleaner etc. Most people who come in for just a season think like this.

There are many companies and shops looking to hire at the beginning of the season, but the mountain resort, Whistler Blackcomb, is probably the largest employer. They offer all sorts of jobs like “liftie”, Customer Service, Sales Rep, Admin and so on. I have never worked with them myself, but met a few people that did and unfortunately I have never received positive feedback. They offer mainly part-time positions, 6 days/week and your work base will change constantly. You do not get the same days off each week, they expect you to drop everything if needed and it they know that you are leaving soon, they will drop your hours each week. There are some advantages though: you get a special discount in certain places (restaurants, shops etc.), your ski pass is fully paid for, you become part of their community (they put on events for their staff) and you have access to special deals (i.e.: lessons at discounted rate, freebies…etc.). Instead of working for them, you can also volunteer some of your time at the mountain, and depending on how many hours you do, they will pay for your ski pass. Personally, I would not work for them because of the feedback I was given and how they supposedly treat their employees, but the experience might be different for somebody else.

Top tips for finding a job: print your CV/resume at the library, drop it at all the shops and companies hiring people, go to events like the Welcome Week, network with people and let them know that you are looking for a job, don’t feel you’re above jobs like cleaning – be open-minded etc.

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The costs of living

I have mentioned a few times the costs of living there and it is something that you need to be aware of if you are thinking of doing a season in Whistler. First of all, the winter season is more expensive than the summer in all possible ways: rent, lift passes, event tickets etc. My aim was to live off what I was earning. I had hoped to get by with a part-time job, but Whistler is very expensive, so I had to go for full-time employment. Working different shifts though, meant I could still ski in the morning and work in the afternoon/evening! On average I would go up the mountain four times a week, either on my own or with my friends depending on all our schedules, work 40h/week and either go out in the evenings or having friends over.

If you are going to Whistler for the winter chances are you will want a seasonal ski and lift pass. If you work for the mountain resort you get a free seasonal pass which normally costs C$1400+tax for the Early Bird or Spirit Pass (if your employer is registered with the Chamber of Commerce) for C$1800+tax full price. You can either pay for your pass in one go, or split the costs in half, the second payment being due in February. I was lucky to have found a job, which reimbursed my pass entirely, incorporating the costs in each pay check, which was a huge saving. If you don’t already have your gear for the mountain you can get some really good deals at the end of the previous season or if you go to the Re-Use it center which is 15mins from the village.

The resort is really good: loads of different runs adequate for beginners as well as professionals, the queues for the chair lifts are never too long and it is open from 8am to 3pm. If you live and work in Whistler, the resort will offer you a skiing course at a discounted rate in January, but you don’t really have a choice in terms of dates… The course has to be on three consecutive days as well, which can be difficult with work commitments. I would recommend to get some sort of insurance before heading down the slopes – an appointment with a GP is C$75, and if you need further treatment you need to pay extra. A broken leg might end up costing you an arm on top!

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In regards to transport, I usually walked to town but I also had access to a free shuttle. There are several bus services connecting all parts of Whistler, but only two lines are free. Buses to Vancouver run on a daily basis. A warning: you can quickly feel isolated without a car as Whistler is quite remote. I you have your own wheels, bring them – there are free car parks all the around the village.

Groceries are quite expensive as there isn’t a lot of competition and taxes are added on top of the displayed prices – what a terrible surprise at the till… Some places offer a Local’s Discount (10% off), but you should always ask for it! Car-sharing among seasonal workers is very common – somebody would post on Facebook that they are going into town and asked if anybody wanted a lift or needed anything fem the shops in exchange for a little gas money – everybody is a winner!

In regards to socialising, there are many little restaurants that will do good deals with simple food such as C$4.95 for a meal then add the taxes and drinks. Like in most skiing resorts, there is an Apres Happy Hour normally from 3 to 5pm or 5 to 7pm. That is down in the village – up on the mountain restaurants will charge double or more, even with the Seasonal Pass discount of 10%. Top tip: bring your own lunch and snacks up to the mountain.

I managed to even save up a little money for the rest of my travels by being very cautious of what I was spending. I didn’t go to nightclubs every day, eat and drink out all the time or bought loads of stuff for myself. Some people who just want to have a six-month-break might be able to do that, but I knew this was just the beginning for me.

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All in all I really enjoyed my season in Whistler and would do it all over again anytime. Whistler was a fun, entertaining and exciting place to be with people from all over the globe (with a majority of Australians). At the end of the season in May, I bought a camper van and I am now travelling around Canada/USA until August 2015 before leaving for Australia to carry on my RTW-Tour and I am sure I will have more to share in the near future.


This is a guest post by Agnes Icher.

32526_403912122339_1908073_n Agnes has always wanted to travel, whereas many girls dream of a big wedding or having a family. Her dream was to go out there and see as much as possible. She has been travelling for just over a year but what a year that was! Stay tuned for her newest blog project coming up soon – for now, check our her Facebook page!